Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy-related illness impacting two percent (underreported) of pregnant women globally. HG often begins by week six of pregnancy and includes malnutrition, rapid weight loss, dehydration, limited mobility and psychological trauma due to unrelenting nausea and vomiting with potentially adverse consequences for moms and babies. HG significantly disrupts women’s daily life. Yet, no standard medical definition exists nor adequate medical care for most of us.
HG is often medically misdiagnosed as extreme “morning sickness” and medical personnel (from physicians to midwives and doulas) often believe HG will resolve by week twelve. However, each pregnancy is unique and while for some women HG dissipates by week twenty, for others (between ten to twenty percent in the U.S.), we experience HG until the end of the pregnancy. HG is NOT morning sickness; it is “beyond morning sickness” as Ashli Foshee McCall (Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum, 2006, www.beyondmorningsickness.com) puts it. My own experiences with three HG pregnancies over the past fifteen years (with one live, healthy birth) along with my mother studies scholarship (“The Yonic Myths of Motherhood: An Autoethnography”, 2008 (10.1,57-65), Journal of the Motherhood Initiative of Research and Community Involvement & “New Maternalisms”: Tales of Motherwork (Dislodging the Unthinkable), 2016, Demeter Press) calls into question normative stories of pregnancy and birth and motherhood, mothering and motherwork.
At the heels of May 15, 2017 – HG Awareness Day – and October 15, 2017 – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, I write to bring attention to the pregnancy and birth traumas around HG, including one in three women do not come home with their babies. I simultaneously draw attention to some of the supportive voices of HG: Hyperemesis Education & Research (HER) Foundation, HER Foundation Facebook, Beyond Morning Sickness, and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG): Sufferers, Survivors, Supporters Facebook. Dr. Marlena Schoenberg Fejzo, Ph.D. of UCLA has partnered with HER, conducting a study entitled, “Genetics of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)” (if you live in the United States, have suffered from HG and had treatment that includes i.v. hydration, TPN and/or other form of non-oral feeding and are interested in being part of the study, then please contact Dr. Fejzo at email@example.com or 310-210-0802). And, Dr. Chandler Marrs, Ph.D. has recently published an article, Hyperemesis Gravidarum – Severe Morning Sickness: Are Mitochondria Involved?, outlining a potential nutritional intervention that may help to navigate HG better (see also the often unacknowledged work of Dr. John B. Irwin, M.D., author of The Natural Way to a Trouble-Free Pregnancy: The Toxemia/Thiamin Connection, 2008, Aslan Publishing).
Finally, I center my work not only in producing HG scholarship in the field of mother studies but I also practically assist women to plan HG pregnancies and develop strategies for managing HG. (I contain in my work a therapeutic shamanic healing component, grounding my work in motherwork, pregnancy and birth traumas for HG suffers and survivors, which embraces experiences of HG-related therapeutic terminations.) We are not alone! I can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org – Dr. Roksana Badruddoja, Ph.D.